About a month ago, Lilpeanut over at the Heal Over Time blog posted the Warcraft love story of one of her readers. It made my heart incredibly happy to hear of another successful couple borne from the depths of a huge, vast video game like WoW. Reading that post sparked an idea and, wouldn’t you know it, St. Valentine’s Day just happened to fall on posting day! What a wonderful coincidence! Because, you see, with today being what it is, I feel compelled to share the journey of my husband and me.
The road started in Azeroth.
Two very different people who were roughly 2300 miles apart on Earth happened to cross paths thanks to a combination of other happy coincidences. If you read my previous post, you know that I didn’t start out as Toriah the blood elf hunter, and, for the longest time, I resisted playing as “the other faction.” But, in time, I relented. Little did I know there was someone on this server whose original main was also an Alliance warlock and had just started playing an orc warrior.
Around this time, I got my dear friend— whom I’ve known since elementary school— into the game as well. He just happened upon a guild during his adventures and convinced me to put down roots with this little community, too. It was made up of a man and various kin: everything from his wife and son to cousins and family friends. As far as I knew, everyone in the guild were related in some way to the GM except my friend and me.
Then, one day, after a brief hiatus to play my warlock, update her PvP gear, and make a last run at recruiting for my Alliance guild, I noticed a new name in the ranks. The new name noticed me, too, but also realized I was recognized by the native population; a chorus of enthusiastic “Hey, Tor!!!” greetings in guild chat kind of gave it away. Perhaps, he thought, this was just the alt of someone else in the guild. So, this new person asked a fairly innocuous and innocent question: “Do I know you?”
I was, for various reasons, in no mood to be sassed by someone I perceived to be a “new guildie.” Failure after failure in recruitment tends to wear on someone’s optimism. As far as I was concerned, I was here first and I should be the ones asking questions. So, I made a cutting reply: “Nope. Don’t know you, either.”
We didn’t say another word to each other for months.
Little did I know that this high-level orc warrior named Smorcus was going to turn my world— in game and out— completely upside down. It started when my hunter was stagnating around level 62 or so. My GM and his wife started putting on the pressure to have me finish leveling to 70. I didn’t get it, really. I was one of, literally, a dozen other hunters in the guild; two of those hunters were the mains of the GM and his wife. We didn’t need another high-level hunter in the guild, did we? Turns out we did, especially a hunter who was willing to spec, re-spec, and gear for optimized trapping and kiting responsibilities.
So, I finished leveling and started doing research while I was at work. My WoW time was devoted to learning how to trap and kite without getting eaten alive. The tank who would be leading all of these expeditions? Smorcus, the very same warrior the guild had picked up in a random pug some months ago. Bremmer, the GM, told me that Smorcus was highly knowledgeable in raiding and tanking, and would be our raid leader. It was imperative, he said, that the main tank and chosen hunter work together to coordinate pulls with traps and misdirects.
Great, I groaned. Well, it can’t be that bad, right? If Brem trusted him, then I should, too. I can put my best professional foot forward.
We started out as a warrior-hunter pair working on trash pulls. Then that moved on to managing the raid together. We danced the red beam together on Netherspite. After raids, we’d chat briefly, at first: see what went wrong, what we did well, and the sort. Post-raid debriefings became long conversations about WoW and everything in between as the weeks went on.
By this point, he trusted me to protect his virtual life as much as I trusted him with mine. One day, he comes online and complains that he’s sick. Pinkeye or something, thanks to his niece or nephew. What struck me, however, was how unconcerned he was about the whole thing. A week later, he talked about how he injured himself while trying to fix his lawn mower. He was equally ambivalent, like he just didn’t care.
In stark contrast, I was constantly asking after his health, seeing if he was doing better. And, frankly, his lack of concern worried me more than anything. Talk to him about anything else— the game, raiding, his immediate family, his cats— and he’d be as animated and lively as anything. But talk to him about his own person and it was a whole other ballgame. My relentless inquiries must have made an impact because at one point he said, “You know, I think you care more about me than I care about me.”
Eventually, I confronted him on the matter. We had our first argument and we weren’t even a couple yet! That was when he imparted a deep secret of his and I gave him one in return to smack some sense into him. It was one of those, “You think that’s bad? This is what happened to me!” sorts of things. The sudden realization that we weren’t so different after all sealed our fate.
I like to often look back at that conversation and think that I was the hero coming to save the prince from his dark tower prison. In some ways, that’s true: I made him realize there’s more to life and a way to move past personal tragedies. But, he saved me in his own way, too. He made me realize I was more than strong enough to stop being afraid of the situation I had mired myself in, and that I deserved better than to settle for mediocrity because of that fear.
In time, he told me he was falling for me and we maintained a long-distance relationship over WoW, numerous phone calls, many IM chats, and the occasional Vent chat when I ran out of cell phone minutes. The relationship was as real to us as anything else in our lives and, thankfully, we had the same idea when it came to relationships: I think the exact words were, “Either we do this right or we don’t do it at all.” Dating and relationships are “srs bizness,” and all that, you know; neither one of us were interested in dating for the sake of merely dating.
It was still magical and exhilarating when he flew out to California to meet face to face for the first time. I flew to Cincinnati to visit and he wanted me to meet every aspect of his life— his parents and brothers and sister in law, niece and nephew, his two cats, his friends, his coworkers, his city, the town he grew up in, the schools he went to, everything. And when we went to his favorite place in the world— a small, family-owned lakeside vacation house he’s visited since childhood— he gave me the ring, same one I wear today. He didn’t propose, per se. Not officially, according to him at the time. He only said, “I didn’t want you to go another day without a ring on your finger.” The way I reacted, thought, you might as well have thought he proposed anyway.
Everything moved quickly from there: we went to BlizzCon ’08 together, I gathered enough metaphorical balls to tell my rather traditional mother about this man I’d met in a video game, he met my mom and brother over Christmas break, mom and brother approved, I openly wore my ring instead of hiding it around my mom, and mom said go get married.
Well, she didn’t quite say, “Go get married with my blessings.” It was more like, “No daughter of mine is leaving for some place I don’t know 2300 miles away without being properly married.” She’s not full on traditional but there are some things she will not compromise. Being properly married before you leave the house is one of those things.
You know the look Robin Hood and Maid Marian exchanged after Frau Hilda yelled at them at the end of Robin Hood: Men in Tights? Yeah, that was pretty much what happened, except he was back in Ohio and I was enjoying the last of my time off before the new quarter. We shrugged and said, “Okay.” So, while I finished my senior year of college, I was also planning a wedding.
And here we are today: two and a half years of marriage, a little adorable imp wreaking havoc on everything, and we’re still happily raiding in WoW together.
Tune in next week for a less sappy but equally geeky/nerdy post about one of my favorite things in the world: music.